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Highlighted features

  • Ruby dependencies are now handled by Bundler
  • Support for invalidating accelerator cache -- this makes it much less likely, when using Varnish, that users will be presented with stale content. Fixes issue #436
  • Adding a GA_CODE to general.yml will cause the relevant Google Analytics code to be added to your rendered pages
  • It is now possible to have more than one theme installed. The behaviour of multiple themes is now layered in the reverse order they're listed in the config file. See the variable THEME_URLS in general.yml-example for an example.

Upgrade notes

  • Existing installations will need to install the Bundler gem. See for details.

  • As a result of using bundler, the list of software packages that should be installed has changed. On Debian, you can run:

    sudo apt-get install `cut -d " " -f 1 config/packages | grep -v "^#"`

    This gist shows the changes to config/packages since the previous release.

  • Because dependencies are now handled by Bundler, when you next run the rails-post-deploy script, it will download, compile and install various things. Part of this is compiling xapian, which may take a long time (subsequent deployments should be much faster)

  • To support invalidating the Varnish cache, ensure that there's a value for VARNISH_HOST in general.yml (normally this would be localhost). You will also need to update your Varnish server to support PURGE requests. The example configuration provided at config/varnish-alaveteli.vcl will work for Varnish 3 and above. If you leave VARNISH_HOST blank, it will have no effect. Finally, you should install the purge-varnish init script that's provided in ugly format at config/purge-varnish-debian.ugly to ensure the purge queue is emptied regularly.

  • Administrators are now assumed to log in using standard user accounts with superuser privileges (see 'Administrator Privileges' in The old-style admin account (using credentials from general.yml) is now known as the "emergency user". Deployments that previously bypassed admin authentication should set the new SKIP_ADMIN_AUTH config variable to true.

Version 0.5.2

This is a hotfix to fix occasional problems importing public body CSVs

Version 0.5.1

Highlighted features

This release was mainly to address issue #418, a regression introduced in 0.5, which was causing deployment problems:

  • Setting STAGING_SITE: 0 in general.yml and running script/rails-post-deploy will ensure the correct behaviour in production environments
  • It should now be safe to run rake spec on a production server

There is one minor new feature in this release:

  • Administrators can follow the auto-login URLs forwarded in emails from users who want support, and they will remain logged in as themselves.

We now have a most of a Czech translation (thanks Josef Pospisil!)

Finally, this release also addresses a number of small bugs, including the (potentially) important issue #408.

As usual, there is a full list of changes on github

Upgrade notes

  • On a production server, ensure that STAGING_SITE is set to 0, and then run script/rails-post-deploy as usual.

Version 0.5

Highlighted features

  • It should now be possible to develop the software on OSX
  • Base design refactored: CSS simplified and reduced, base design colours removed, now provided in example Alaveteli theme override
  • It is now possible to rebuild the xapian index for specific terms, rather than having to drop and rebuild the entire database every time (as previously). See rake xapian:rebuild_index for more info.
  • When listing authorities, show all authorities in default locale, rather than only those in the currently selected locale.
  • Ensure incoming emails are only ever parsed once (should give a performance boost)
  • Added a simple rate-limiting feature: restrict the number of requests users can make per day, except if explicitly unrestricted in the admin interface
  • Full list of changes on github

Upgrade notes

  • IMPORTANT! We now depend on Xapian 1.2, which means you may need to install Xapian from backports. See issue #159 for more info.
  • Themes created for 0.4 and below should be changed to match the new format (although the old way should continue to work):
    • You should create a resources folder at <yourtheme>/public/ and symlink to it from the main rails app. See the install.rb in alaveteli-theme example theme for details.
    • Your styles should be moved from general/custom_css.rhtml to a standalone stylesheet in <yourtheme>/public/stylesheets/
    • The partial at general/_before_head_end.rhtml should be changed in the theme to include this stylesheet
  • issue #281 fixes some bugs relating to display of internationalised emails. To fix any wrongly displayed emails, you'll need to run the script at script/clear-caches so that the caches can be regenerated
  • During this release, a bug was discovered in pdftk 1.44 which caused it to loop forever. Until it's incorporated into an official release, you'll need to patch it yourself or use the Debian package compiled by mySociety (see link in issue 305)
  • Ensure you have values for new config variables (see config/general.yml-example):
  • The new optional config variable MAX_REQUESTS_PER_USER_PER_DAY can be set to limit the number of requests each user can make per day.
  • The recommended Varnish config has changed, so that we ignore more cookies. You should review your Varnish config with respect to the example at config/varnish-alaveteli.vcl.
  • Consider setting elinks global config as described in the "Troubleshooting" section of

Version 0.4

Highlighted features

  • Complete overhaul of design, including improved search, modern look and feel, more twitter links, etc
  • A banner alerts visitors from other countries to existing sites in their country, or exhorts them to make their own
  • Bounce emails that result from user alerts are automatically processed and hard bouncing accounts do not continue to receive alerts. See the new instructions in for details of how to set this up.
  • Logged in users now have the ability to download a zipfile of the entire correspondence for a request
  • Improved UI for responding to requests. The user now has a single option to "reply" at the bottom of a request, and can adjust who they are replying to on the next page
  • Full list of changes on github

Upgrade notes

  • Remember to rake db:migrate and git submodule update
  • Ensure you have values for new config variables (see config/general.yml-example):
  • The config variable FRONTPAGE_SEARCH_EXAMPLES is no longer used, so you should remove it to avoid confusion.
  • Execute script/rebuild-xapian-index to create new xapian index terms used in latest version of search (can take a long time)
  • Install wkhtmltopdf to enable PDFs in downloadable zipfiles. A static binary is recommended on Linux in order to run the command headless:
  • Ensure your webserver can serve up generated files by symlinking cache/zips/download to public/download (this is also done by the rails-post-deploy script). If you're using Passenger + Apache, you'll need to add a PassengerResolveSymlinksInDocumentRoot on directive to the configuration.
    • Note that the zipfile download functionality will currently hang if you're running Alaveteli single-threaded, as it creates a new request to the server to get the print stylesheet version!
  • Configure your MTA to handle bounce emails from alerts (see

Version 0.3

Highlighted features

  • New search filters / UI on request page, authorities page, and search page. Upgrades require a rebuild of the Xapian index (./script/xapian-index-rebuild). Design isn't beautiful; to be fixed in next release.
  • Introduce reCaptcha for people apparently coming from foreign countries (to combat spam) (requires values for new config variables ISO_COUNTRY_CODE and GAZE_URL, and existing config variables RECAPTCHA_PUBLIC_KEY and RECAPTCHA_PRIVATE_KEY)
  • Better admin interface for editing multiple translations of a public body at once ## Other
  • Full list of changes on github
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